Abstract The distribution of boron in rivers across European Union countries is described. The data have been collected from national and international monitoring programmes. The data show a wide range of concentrations but only in a few instances do concentrations exceed environmental quality standards. Although there is a good body of data for the analysis presented here, it is clear that there is not a full coverage of environments and for some studies there is a clear bias towards sampling of the main rivers or specific rivers where there are environmental concerns. The variations in concentration link directly to pollutant sources although assessment of the details of the spatial variations is clouded by factors such as the location of monitoring points in relation to pollutant discharges, the variation in dilution potential of the various rivers and contrasting hydrological and geological environments. The data are presented to complement more detailed studies on particular river basins as a basis for the further development of regional environmental impact water quality modelling frameworks and within the newly developing field of typological settings.